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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

The Hopeful Truth about Spiritual Discernment



Decisions. We make about 35,000 of them a day! Of course, not all are life changing. Many are just the mundane stuff of life.


But what about the decisions that change something in our lives or someone else’s? What about the way we use our words or time or energy? What about the way we make plans for the day? What drives those decisions? Preferences? Goals? God’s will?


For me, this is where spiritual discernment starts, in the sometimes unimportant and often deceptively important choices. If decisions build my life, I want them anchored in everything God wants. For that, spiritual discernment is key.

What Spiritual Discernment is Not

Let’s start with what spiritual discernment it is not:

  • It is not reserved for the major decisions about making a move, starting a job, marrying, parenting, etc.

  • It isn’t based on intuition, feelings, or what I think.

  • ·It is not an automatic gift when you become a Christian.

  • ·It is not a spiritual extra reserved for the super committed.


What Spiritual Discernment Is

What is spiritual discernment? Scripture answers that question. best.


1. Spiritual discernment connects with wisdom from God..

Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. (Hosea 14:9NLT)


2. Spiritual discernment is God-given insight to recognize what pleases God..

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11NIV)

3. Spiritual discernment requires that God’s Word is priority influencer.

For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (Hebrews 5:12NLT)


A Definition

Using these scriptures, this is my definition for spiritual discernment:


Spiritual discernment starts with what God says in His Word and helps us make God-pleasing choices between right and wrong, good and best, or culture and God.


I have written on discernment before. You can read it in the piece titled “Is Spiritual Discernment a Lost Art?” It seriously concerns me how many people make major decisions by consulting God after they know what they want. It concerns me when people parrot someone else without doing the work of spiritual discernment for themselves.


More Coming

That’s why I’m using the next few posts to unpack how we make spiritual discernment our decision-making strategy. To prepare, just take a daily inventory: how do you make your daily decisions? Who tells you what is right and wrong, good, and best and how do you know?


I want us to develop some new sensitivities that God will use to help us develop confidence in living a life that pleases God. Isn’t that what we all want?


Do you have questions? I’ll be glad to address them without using your name. Just write me.

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